26 February, 2010

Acting Up

This week's literacy activity is intended to get kids to "act up"...in a good way. Read a simple story or board book to your child, and then encourage him/her to act it out. You can create a "stage" in your home and provide a box of "props" including miscellaneous clothes and accessories, as well as items found in the story. A fun way to preserve this activity is to "film" the dramatic play, using a video camera. Your kids will love to watch their acting debut on the big screen!

Story suggestions:
Rapunzel -Brothers Grimm, Zelinsky
Lon Po Po -Young 

25 February, 2010

Pull Me Along

There is nothing like a soggy, dreary February day to get me yearning to begin planning my family's summer holiday. Packing, on the other hand, I procrastinate until the last possible moment. There is one product, however; that has made that process just a little bit more fun. Last year, I discovered Trunki. Trunki is a ride-on suitcase designed and manufactured by British company Magmatic. 
The beauty of this product is that my preschooler can either walk and pull Trunki along or, when her little legs get tired, my husband or I can pull her along. Each time we have traveled with Trunki, people stop us and fawn all over it...from the pilots, to businessmen, to little old ladies. Trunki is also a fun way for my little traveler to make new friends-who also want to give it a spin-in the airport.

22 February, 2010

Ei! Ei!

I attended my first Klezmer concert this weekend, performed by the New York City Metropolitan Klezmer. ("Klezmer" is a Hebrew word that literally means musical vessel, and the non-religious style of music has been around since the 15th century.) The sound is folksy, expressive, and can't-sit -still FUN. Eight instruments comprise the band- the trumpet, violin, nai flute, clarinet, saxophone, trombone, drums, and accordion. The musicians perform songs in both Yiddish and English inspired by big band songs, theatre melodies, eastern European Yiddish tunes, and film scores. Ei! Ei!

Click here to listen to sounds of Metropolitan Klezmer Ensemble.

19 February, 2010

I Spy With My Little Eye...

Alphabet + Art = Fun! 
I Spy: An Alphabet in Art, written by Lucy Mickelthwait is a children's book based upon that universal preschool game "I Spy". The author cleverly weaves classic paintings, alphabet letter recognition, and the I-Spy-Something game together. 

Read the book to your little one, and ask them to try to find something in the painting that begins with the letter on that page. A fabulous way to extend the activities in this book is to visit a local art museum with your child and try a little alphabet I-Spy with the paintings there. 
If an art museum is not available to you, try a virtual one:
The National Gallery
Musee du Louvre
Museum of Modern Art

16 February, 2010

Really Ethereal

This past weekend, when my family strolled past artist Michael Gard's booth at the Coconut Grove Arts Festival, we all stopped. And stared. Transparent, metallic dancers  jet├ęd through the clouds. His wire sculptures are both striking and unique. The ethereal quality of his sculptures is achieved through a process he invented. By first fashioning a clay sculpture, then creating a wax replica, San Francisco artist Gard weaves metal wire around the mold. When he melts the wax away, a new art piece is born.

09 February, 2010

Sort a Sweet

Play with your food in this Valentine's Day conversation heart candy sorting activity.
Conversation heart candies are good for more than just eating. Try these math activities with your kids before the sugar rush.
  • Individual boxes of conversation heart candies for each participant (I used Necco Sweetheart candies for this activity)
  • paper
  • pencil 
  1. Before you open the box, challenge your kids to estimate how many heart candies the box contains. On a chart with each child's name, write down each estimation.
  2. Open the boxes and dump out the contents. Count how many heart candies the box actually contains. Write the actual number on the chart.
  3. Ask the kids to find the difference between their estimation and the actual number of candies contained in the box. Whose estimation was closest?
  4. Now, sort the candies into groups based upon color. What color was the most prolific? This can be referred to as the mode.
  5. Graph the candy colors. You can make a bar graph, a pictograph, or a pie chart.
  6. Ask the kids to make a pattern with their candies.
  7. Measure their hand with the candies. How many hearts long is it?
  8. Challenge the kids (and maybe yourself) to stack candies on top of their hand. How many candies high can they go before their heart tower falls?
  9. OK, OK, now let 'em eat.

05 February, 2010

Wrapped Around Your Finger

There is lots of twisting in this craft. The shouting is optional.
The supply part is easy. You need telephone wire (stripped down), wire cutters (or sharp scissors), and your index finger
Peel the outer coating off of the telephone wire to reveal the 5 colors of wire inside. 
Using wire cutters, clip the wire into 20 cm. strands.
Twist one wire around your index finger to form a spiral. This forms the body.
Twist a second wire around your index finger to form another spiral, then smash it down. This forms the head.
Twist two more wires around your index finger. This forms the legs.
Twist other wire strands to form arms, feet, and accessories.
Tie the spirals together to create a figure. 
Thank you Todd Oldham for the inspiration for this project. Get a copy of his book Kid Made Modern.
Thank you Unplugyourkids.com for the February unplugged project theme: Spiral.

03 February, 2010

Jumpin' J!

 Chris Van Allsburg's book The Z Was Zapped is the inspiration for this week's literacy activity. In the book, the author sketches each letter of the alphabet as an event corresponding with that letter occurs (Ex: "The B was badly Bitten").  
Read the book to your children, and then try your own. The above photos are examples of my kids' own interpretations of the story. You will need the book, drawing paper, and colored pencils...Go ahead. See how alliterate you can be.

02 February, 2010

A is for Abu Dhabi

A B C Geography 
In this era of Globalization, cultural literacy is a necessary part of your child's education. Here is an easy way to brush up on your geography facts together.Try this little game next time you are standing in the queue at the market with your cranky grade schooler: Challenge yourself and your child to go through the alphabet naming a geographical term for each letter. Names of cities, countries, states, oceans, rivers, lakes, mountain ranges are all up for grabs. Just ignore all of the curious stares when your kid shouts out "Lake Tanganyika"!
Props to my brother-in-law for this fun idea!